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Other SportsAryna Sabalenka 'is a very strong woman', says opponent Badosa after Miami...

Aryna Sabalenka ‘is a very strong woman’, says opponent Badosa after Miami Open result

Paula Badosa called close friend Aryna Sabalenka “a very strong woman” after being beaten 6-4 6-3 by the world number two at the Miami Open – four days after the death of the Belarusian’s former partner, Konstantin Koltsov.

Koltsov, a professional hockey player who had become a successful coach, died in Miami aged 42 in what police said was an “apparent suicide”.

Sabalenka asked for privacy on Thursday and described Koltsov’s death as an “unthinkable tragedy”, adding: “My heart is broken.”

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While Sabalenka will not carry out press duties during the tournament, Badosa provided an insight into the 25-year-old after the pair faced each other.

“We’re both pretty strong mentally,” said the Spaniard. “She proved it. I proved it. She played really well. I played really well for where I’m from.

“This all comes from the fact that we know we’ve been through a lot in our lives… and we know how to separate [our lives from playing] in that moment.”

Sabalenka wins at Miami Open

“Aryna is a very, very strong woman with a strong personality,” observed Badosa. “You can see it on the court. Especially as I know her off the court. She doesn’t surprise me at all.

“I knew she would play very well, as usual. I told her I wished her the best. Let’s see if she can go very deep in this tournament.”

Badosa and Sabalenka hugged at the net after their encounter, which set the victor on course for Ukraine’s Anhelina Kalinina in the last 32 on Saturday.

Downpours in Florida have affected the tournament, causing a delay to Andy Murray’s match against Tomas Martin Etcheverry.

Australian Open champion and second seed Jannik Sinner is among those scheduled to play on Saturday, as well as top seed Carlos Alcaraz.

Women’s number one Iga Swiatek is also in action, while four-time Grand Slam title winner Naomi Osaka takes on world number 17 Elina Svitolina.

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